KUALA LUMPUR— Foreigners who own and run retail shops in Jalan Masjid India are up in arms over the new regulations by City Hall in a bid to rid non-Malaysians from trading there.
They claim the move was a result of Malaysians being “jealous of their success” and said the new rules were “discriminatory”.
A Bangladeshi, who identified himself as Mohsin, said the new rules were the result of Malaysians being “dissatisfied” over the booming businesses by foreigners.
“You did not want to do these jobs. No Malaysians were interested in catering to the needs of our community. As such we set up our own shops,” he said.
“Now when you see that business is good, your authorities are trying to take it away from us,” he said.
While he admitted he did not have a business licence, he said he was the rightful owner of the shop he was operating. He said the practice of shop owners using licences belonging to others was widespread especially in the area.
Another Bangladeshi, who identified himself as Shah, said the new regulations were unfair and was an attempt by City Hall to snatch a lucrative market share.
“The shops we run cater to our people and we import items which are available only back home,” he said.
“We are not disturbing anyone, so why are you forcing us away?” he said.
“Without us, our people will be forced to buy items at higher prices. They will not be able to cope with the cost of living.”
Local business owners, however, expressed interest in moving into key areas which have been dominated by foreigners for years.
Norlida Ismail, 35, who ran a restaurant near Kota Raya shopping complex, said the move was timely and would benefit locals.
“We cannot let foreigners monopolise businesses in the country, especially small restaurants, markets and retail outlets,” she said.
“If we let this happen, we will be out of work and begging on the streets instead. Locals need to fully use this opportunity and set up shops in these areas,” she said.
Norlida also said there was nothing wrong with the regulations as many countries had ways to protect their locals and ensure their well-being.
“Every country has restrictions on foreigners operating businesses. We should not be any different.”
Mobile accessory shop operator Issac Lee, 29, said he would not have considered setting up an outlet in Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin prior to the announcement.
“This is definitely a good idea. Obviously many locals, including myself, will consider opening a shop there,” he said.
He said the new rules would allow Malaysians to “reclaim” parts of the city which had been dominated by foreigners, especially migrant workers.
“Some places in Kuala Lumpur are unrecognisable, even famous places like Petaling Street appear to be fully run by foreigners and have lost their appeal to visitors,” he said.